A reporter finally stands up to the Trump administration’s bullying of the press
It has been a long time coming, but at a White House briefing, a reporter finally stood up to the Trump administration's bullying of the press by yielding her question to Sirius XM's Jared Rizzi when Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to shut him down from asking a follow-up.
The Trump administration’s campaign to intimidate and bully the press was perhaps best exemplified when CNN’s Jim Acosta (who has not gotten a question in since Sean Spicer’s first briefing) was shut down by Donald Trump, and prevented from asking a question. Since then, the White House press have largely been cowed by threats to access, but one brave reporter has showed solidarity with a colleague who was being bullied.
When Sirius XM POTUS Channel’s Jared Rizzi began trying to ask a follow-up question, Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to blow past him by calling on another reporter, who, incredibly, yielded her question back to Rizzi:
SPICER: I’m not sure how many more times I can read the code to you, but 8 USA code 1182 —
RIZZI: You and I talking about it is not how the judicial process works.
SPICER: Thank you. You’ve asked the question, now, 8 times.
RIZZI: One more, I’d like to ask you one more. Excuse me, one more about a different set of comments —
SPICER: I under — thank you. I understand. Go ahead.
RIZZI: — that have been made, Sean, also from Kellyanne Conway, earlier this week.
REPORTER: Let him go. Let him go.
RIZZI: — earlier this week. You said the — this is in context of the Nordstrom, and not about what she was counseled about —
As it turns out, Rizzi could not get through his question before Spicer bullied his way through him again, after giving an absurd answer to Rizzi’s contrast of Trump’s frivolous tweets with his silence on the Quebec Mosque massacre:
RIZZI: I want to contrast the president’s repeated statements about Nordstrom with the lack of comments about some other things, including, for example, the attacks on Quebec’s, on a Quebec mosque, and other similar environments. Why is the president, when he chooses to —
SPICER: Do you know, do you — hold on. You just brought that up. I literally stand at this podium and opened a briefing a couple of days ago about the president expecting (sic) his condolences. I literally opened the briefing about it. So for you to sit there and say —
RIZZI: I was here.
SPICER: I know, so why are you asking why he didn’t do it, when I literally stood here and did it.
RIZZI: The president’s statement —
SPICER: I don’t understand what you are asking.
RIZZI: Kellyanne’s comments were about that the president doesn’t have time to tweet about everything. He’s tweeting about this, he’s not tweeting about something else.
SPICER: I came out here and actually spoke about it and said the president spoke —
RIZZI: I’m talking about the president’s time.
SPICER: What are you — you’re equating me addressing the nation here and a tweet? I don’t — that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. This is silly. Okay, next. Thank you. You’ve asked your question, thank you.
Rizzi’s point was, of course, that Trump himself has yet to publicly comment on the Quebec attack, but it is particularly indefensible for Spicer to point to his own comments, which used the Muslim victims of that attack by a right-wing extremist to justify Trump’s Muslim ban.
While this exchange still resulted in Spicer bullying his way past Rizzi’s incisive question, the fact that his colleague yielded her question is an encouraging sign that some in the White House press may begin to resist the Trump administration’s attempts to control and manipulate them. Here’s hoping others follow this example.